Thursday, August 6, 2009

Madras Day

Madras Day is a day of celebrations organised in the city of Chennai, the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated on 22 August every year, and is named after Madras the old name of Chennai.

The modern history of the city dates back to 1639 when Francis Day of the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King Peda Venkata Raya in Chandragiri.

The region was ruled by Damerla Venkatapathy, the Nayak of Vandavasi. He granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises.
It was on 22 August 1639 that a sliver of land, was handed over by the local Nayak rulers to the East India Company’s Francis Day, his dubash Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan. The British later built Fort St George, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city.

From this small three square miles given to the East India Company grew the city of Chennai where close to 50 Lakhs people live now. As years passed by out of the fort grew settlements and the villages around it were brought together with the old and new towns linked up and hence birth of a city.

The celebrations of Madras Day include several events organised including citizens and students and lasts for a week. The idea to celebrate the birth of the city every year was born when journalists Shashi Nair and Vincent D'Souza met the city's historian and Editor of Madras Musings, S Muthiah at his residence for coffee. It was based on the success of another event called Mylapore Festival which D'Souza had been organising every year in January. It was decided by the trio to start celebrating Madras Day from 2004. According to them, "primary motive of celebrating `Madras Day' was to focus on the city, its past and its present." The idea initially started off with about five events in 2004, but with 2008, has over 60 different events associated with the day including heritage walks, photo walks, lectures, poetry and caption and quiz contests, food festivals and a Bullet tour lasting for a week.

The Madras Day celebrations and all the bash culminates each year with the Madras Quiz, separately in Tamil and English. This is faciliated by the Mylapore Times.Many quiz enthusiasts come for the same. The quiz is quite competitive in terms of content. The 2009 edition of the Madras Quiz in English will be conducted by the Indian Quizzing League.

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